My Life, Our Times is a Big Clunking Fist of a political autobiography. It demonstrates Gordon Brown’s strengths and exposes his frailties. The book is well written, sometimes drily humorous and at moments gripping, not least when he turns to the subject of his personal tragedies. It makes a powerful case for the positive contributions he made, but it also skates over persistent questions about his record.
Brown has two historic and significant achievements to his name. First, he was able, initially, to overturn the depiction of Labour economic failure embodied in memories of his often-caricatured predecessors as Labour Chancellors of the Exchequer: Philip Snowden, who held the office during the first years of the Great Depression; Stafford Cripps, who oversaw rationing and austerity measures after the Second World War; Jim Callaghan, in office when the pound was devalued in 1967; and Denis Healey, whose tenure witnessed the IMF’s intervention, the Winter of Discontent and 98 per cent rates of marginal taxation.
For decades Labour’s enemies successfully used these memories to prevent the party from achieving any sustained period in office. However, Brown (strongly supported by Blair) proved for more than ten years until 2008,